Play Ball!

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.
~ Hank Aaron


It’s playoff season once again! It’s time for the fall classic, and it’s time for another World Series rollout within Educator. We’re ready for the long haul, and we’re getting you and your students ready for the change as well.

We showed off the new Educator uniform a couple of weeks ago to an appreciative crowd at the Momentum Conference. In just a couple of weeks those changes will be released “into the wild” for all users. The development team has been working on this for some time now. They recognize it as one of the most massive Educator changes ever. So what’s it all about? Why did we bother?

Every building needs a good foundation, right? This enabled the rebuilding of an even better Educator foundation upon which continued development could take place. Building a more personalized and prescriptive platform simply required a different foundation. What you (and your students) will find most obvious is the navigation.

PLEASE NOTE: The changes we will be referencing this week and next will only be visible to about 95% of current Educator users. The other five percent are still using Internet Explorer 8.0. Those IE8 users will see this notice once per day:


These users will still be able to access all Educator areas as they do now. They just will not gain the benefit of certain enhancements and improvements.

For example … this is a screenshot for a user who will be using IE8:

IE8 - WinXP_820

It looks very similar to what they see no, doesn’t it? They can still navigate through all sections of Educator and perform all their work. If those users would update their Internet Explorer or switch to Chrome or Firefox, they would reap the benefits of the new look and feel presented to the vast majority of Educator users:


This is a new responsive design. It is designed to shrink and play nicely on tablets and phones. All navigation is directed from the black toolbar on top of the screen. There are FLVS departments and about 20 volunteer teachers who are now running this design through their courses and devices. I am sure we will hear from them soon enough. Meanwhile …

When any of your students or parents ask about the IE8 warning above, please encourage them to begin using a more modern browser. They do not have to do this, but they will definitely appreciate the user experience within Educator a lot more. When will this change occur? We are shooting for Halloween. It might have to move a week later, depending on what the QA team and others uncover. We will see and keep you posted here. We know there will be issues; we are ready for the possible oversights. We will just make it work. And we’ll just keep swinging.

The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
~ Thomas Paine

Maintaining Momentum and More

Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the ‘naturals,’ the ones who somehow know how to teach.
~ Peter Drucker

We really do keep trying to make our tools work better for you. You know that. Face-to-face time is something special in our world, isn’t it? It was just a week ago when many of us had another opportunity to share some F2F time together. Thank you for inspiring us once again.


It looks like something MUST be interesting. :-)

It was fun for us, and we hope it was informative for you. We have some very big plans in the works.

The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.
~ Bob Iger

As we shared with you, much of our moving forward now hinges upon continuing our collaborative work with the IT and curriculum teams in place at Florida Virtual School. We are working very closely with them, and everyone recognizes how our continued success and growth will depend on this.

You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values.
~ Jeff Weiner

We have a long and deep list of your latest suggestions. The development team is already working through it … making their list and checking it twice. Prioritizing and planning will take place in the coming weeks, and you will surely see the return on your investment of ideas and suggestions. It’s our goal to deserve even greater applause a year from now!

Always try to maintain complete tolerance, and always make an effort to give people more than they expect.
~ Scott Hamilton

Attention225PLEASE NOTE:

The new look of a responsive Educator will be in place within a month. Testing and piloting rolls out next week.

Anyone using Internet Explorer 8 will need to upgrade or switch browsers. Information will be shared on this blog, via email, and through regular communication channels.


Thank you once again for your tremendous welcome, your unrivaled enthusiasm, and your continued trust. We know what it takes to earn your respect, and we intend to continue working to deserve it.


An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
~ Mae West


Got Momentum?

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.
~ Michael Korda


We have come to Orlando to see you, to share with you, and to explore with you. As previously explained, we will have two occasions to share our work and explore where we (plural!) are headed.

Thursday, 10/2 at 3:45 – Educator

You know your Educator home quite well. It has had plenty of changes, and more are on the way. Some new enhancements have already evolved from your wishful thinking and slipped into today’s Educator.

I love the notes. Is there a way to make them expire on their own? For example, if I want to remind a student to attend a Live Lesson @5pm on Monday, the note would then delete itself after the session has passed.

We saw how much you appreciated those Student Reminders. It only took you to make them even better! You can now set end dates AND times! And yes, the reminder will be deleted at the time set.


Can you post the little plus button next to where you copy the gradebook? This way you don’t have to navigate back to the list of students to post the reminder when doing LTI or IPPs.


Sure. It makes great sense., doesn’t it?

I really like the option to go to the ‘Next ungraded essay.’ It could be improved if it would go directly to the next question without scrolling or scroll faster. It’s too slow so sometimes I just use my mouse if I think I can get there faster.

And there was this thought.

Is there a way to have the student name show up in the little blue box that pops up to the right of an essay box when grading? When responding to a student’s essay answer, it would be helpful to have it shown, so that I don’t have to scroll back to the top of the page if I need their name.


The “little blue box” was given a new engine with turbo thrusters. That was even after the extra weight of a student name!

We have more in store for you during the Educator presentation. We hope to see you there.

Friday, 10/3 at 9:00 – WeatherSTEM


We ‘ve been asked about this one. What is it? What’s this about? Come see and hear what made the Weather Channel take a look and decide to feature our WeatherSTEM progress in an upcoming feature. Local news channels are joining the excitement.

This is STEM education worth learning about. A major part of this presentation will be focused on Educator, a more prescriptive and personalized journey. You’ve heard of the Internet of Things. Come watch how it can impact learning.

What’s dangerous is not to evolve.
~ Jeff Bezos

Let’s Visit

Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections.
It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War


What are you doing next week? It has always been informative for both of us. This year definitely promises the same.

Educator: Today and Tomorrow
Thursday, October 2 • 3:45pm (one hour) •
Lake Nona, Hilton Orlando

Educator has grown faster, friendlier, and more powerful. You’ve seen a lot this past year. Come see and understand where we are taking Educator in the coming months.


dialogue [dahy-uh-lawg, -log]
1. conversation between two or more persons

We come to listen, to understand, and to share. You have been very vocal here and on our Facebook page. Feel free to do the same live and in person!


WeatherSTEM: What, Why, and Wow!
Friday, October 3 • 9:00am (90 minutes) •
Lake Mizell A&B, Hilton Orlando

Have you ever asked about the weather? Do you garden? Do you ever look up at the sky and wonder? WeatherSTEM brings live data about our world into the school curriculum. It’s the most connected weather system on the planet!


adventure [ad-ven-cher]
1. an exciting or very unusual experience
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises

This is something new and different. This is WeatherSTEM. We are bringing the world around us into classrooms and homes. Come learn about what we are doing outside and what you can discover inside. You can pick the next award winner! It’s probably happening in your backyard, or it will be there soon.

We look forward to crossing paths with you at one time or the other. It’s always been a learning experience for us, and we hope it’s the same for you. Who knows what magic awaits?


One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
~ Henry Ford

Reach Out

Reach out and touch
Somebody’s hand.
Make this world a better place
If you can.
~ Diana Ross, debut solo single for Motown, 1970

Someone took the time to reach out to us:

Any way that you guys could make it to where the gradebook or the assessments tab in students view could have a teacher editable area – so for example right now I put the plans for success in the students profile for me to see – but it would be super awesome if the kids would see that too :)

You know those times. There are times when you want to slap a reminder right where a student is guaranteed to see it. It might be for any reason. It could be to complete a DBA, or maybe it’s to read an email. It might be to contact you, or it could even be congratulations for some job well done. It makes no difference; it’s just another way to personalize your students’ experience. As long as you’re leaving notes around, why not add a splash of color?


How would you like to leave notes for your students? Individual, personalized notes from you can appear on any student’s gradereport and workload pages. Imagine leaving a note that defies the excuse, “I didn’t see it.” Interested? For that extra touch you can even select your splash of color:


Ready to give it a whirl? This is where you will create and/or edit any personal notes for students …


The title will always appear in BOLD type. (PLEASE NOTE: Adding a title is optional.) Whatever you put in the REMINDER TEXT box will appear directly under the Title. You have 4 color choices in the dropdown menu. To make anything stick, of course there is the SAVE button. There you go! The DELETE checkbox does exactly what you might think; it deletes the reminder. Now that you have the big picture, how do you get it on the right lunch bag or backpack?

Go to your STUDENTS list. Slowly float your pointer down the list of students in your class. As you hover, you will notice a small blue icon with a plus sign. (See Bart below.) A callout will read ADD A REMINDER FOR THIS STUDENT.


When a reminder is already set for a student, a constant blue icon with exclamation point will be your signal. (See Lisa above.) Hovering over this icon will reveal the title and text of your reminder. Just glancing at the roster will indicate who has a reminder. The hover will show the reminder. Clicking the icon will bring you to that EDIT STUDENT REMINDER window (way up above here) where you can use that DELETE checkbox, if you like.

You will also see the reminder on the student’s gradereport. It will appear to you exactly as the student will see it. This way you can readily know what the reminder says to your student. Clicking the “X” button will close the reminder for that page view. Refreshing or returning to the page will show it again. Leave some notes, and let us know what you think.

We have one more comment to share:

I’m not sure if this has been suggested before, but frequently when a student sends me an email inside the system, I need to look at their gradebook to answer the question. Clicking on their name takes me to the student mail profile. It would pretty cool if that click, or a different link, took me directly to their gradebook view.

This sounded like a great idea to us! You will now notice a small icon next to the student’s name on an e-mail. Click that icon, and you will be taken directly to that student’s grade report in a new window.


Thanks for visiting. We hope to see you in just two weeks.

Reach out and touch someone.
~ Tony Galli and Stanley Lomas for N.W. Ayer & Son (AT&T advertising, 1979)

A Look Back

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney

We love moving forward. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone?
There is definitely a unique joy to be found traveling new paths and exploring new territory. The Ucompass developers feel the same. It genuinely pleases them to build these new features and better enhance your Educator world.
As we march toward a more personalized and prescriptive student experience, we are often finding buried treasures in our “old” Educator. Two recent comments brought this to mind after releasing the forcing feature in assignments …

I love the new forcing for the Assessments! Is there a way to add that to the exams as well? Most of our assignments are exams and we would like to put some on those as well.

And again …

I noticed I cannot force after an exam. Something that can be added?

A quick poll of other teachers illuminated these comments. Folks heartily agreed that adding forced outcomes to exams would be a great idea. We heard the call to action, and guess what? Educator exams already have this feature! First, we have a thought from an old friend here …

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
~ Albert Einstein

Here we go!

Pick an exam. Select MODIFY on the ACTIONS dropdown.


In the menu at the top click the link SET OUTCOMES.


The next step is to note how many outcomes you wish to have.


Assignments default to the same forcing slide regardless of outcome/grade.

Exams can be even more personalized. All students can be sent to the same Object ID regardless of the achieved grade:


Or students can be sent to different objects BASED ON THEIR GRADE:


It’s up to you! Once again you can better personalize your students’ experience.

See that? There are quite a few places where Educator already takes steps to address the personalized and prescriptive focus we have today. Together we will uncover what gems and answers might already be there and determine the best way to reach our common goal.


Thursday, October 2nd at 3:45PM

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
~ Henry Ford

Writing for A Change

The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.
~ Lee Iacocca

What good does it do you and your fellow teachers to make comments here, or on Facebook, or our website, or via email? That’s a fair question for those of you who are new to these pages. It’s said well in the quote above … your writing is the first step toward making changes for the better. Do you notice how together we have improved the efficiency of the Educator system? Our listening would be useless without your speaking, your comments and ideas, your writing. You are the first step! For example, give a listen here …

The one thing that is very frustrating is having he student grade level column in the grading folder. We do not need to know what grade level they are for grading work. It interferes with looking to see if it is a resubmitted assignment or new assignment. (Most teachers put a zero or a 1 into the grade to have the child resubmit.)

Hide and Seek


That particular comment started this ball rolling. We have added column fields along the way for groups of teachers who had made requests on this page. Not everyone wanted everything that was added by the development team. What now? One afternoon a developer scratched his head and said, “Why not give the teachers a choice? Let them pick what they want to see!”

Take a look at your workload (click ASSESSMENTS). The GRADING WORKFLOW is still there. All your FILTERS are there as well. There is that new button highlighted above labeled SHOW/HIDE COLUMNS.


When you click that button, you will see the list captured in the screenshot here. The eight column headings are listed, and these correspond to the headings listed below. Which columns do you want to see on your workload page? Place checkmarks in the boxes you want to be visible, and that is how Educator will present your workload. All sort capabilities will remain available.


PLEASE NOTE: The FILTERS will still apply to ALL workload entries. Filters will still function regardless of any columns hidden. The SHOW/HIDE feature ONLY applies to what you see on the screen.

We stumbled over some more written thoughts …

Curiosity – can we do outcomes for assignments, not just exams – say if a kid submits his 1.07 assignment it forces to an html to schedule a DBA? I do this for exams, but can’t seem to see it in a specific assignment.

Greater Force

This use case has been presented more than once. Students get through an assignment and really should move on to their DBA or some other particular place. You would like to reach through the network and flash a reminder at that exact moment. Now you can do this after assignments! Go to your ASSIGNMENTS listing and select MODIFY as an action for the assignment after which you want to trigger something.


Scroll down through the assignment, and you will find the text box labeled FORCE STUDENT TO OBJECT. Just enter the Object ID to which you want to force every student upon submission, and they will be brought there as soon as the submission is made.


Where can you find any objects that might interest you? As a reminder … the most likely place to find the item you want and its Object ID will be in MY FOLDERS.


We have some long-term plans that are coming together. The Ucompass developers are working to make Educator a more prescriptive and personalized experience for your students and you. Keep sharing your ideas with us. Once they are written, they always get discussed … and often they get done!


So let it be written; so let it be done.
~ Rameses II, The Ten Commandments, 1956

Bountiful Buffet

buffet Shop often, shop hard, and spend for the best stuff available.
Logic dictates that you can make delicious food only with delicious ingredients.
~ Mario Batali

Forcing Sorts

We went through the pantry of your suggestions and managed to put a little something for everyone on the table this week. It started with this item from the developers’ thinking table:

Hi, any chance that you can make the forcing slide column sortable, so that I can have them in order and easily go through them each week to “add 1″ in order to force that student to the next slide?

Here we go … 2_forcing The table can now be sorted on this FORCING column. If you have named your forcing slides with numbered prefixes, this comes in very handy. If not, you probably don’t care right now, but you probably will someday.

TA (Teaching Assistant) Time

We all know that the students are the most important figures in the education landscape. When it comes to getting the job done, however, the role of teaching assistant (TA) plays a critical role. Someone wrote:

I was wondering if it would be possible to see the THINGS TO GRADE box on the main page of Educator when we login as a TA. It would save many of us some needless clicks if it were on that page like it is on our own course page. We probably don’t need the CURRENT GRADE on our page; I would rather the THINGS TO GRADE instead. Thanks for thinking about it :)

It became time to update their TA dashboard to better reflect the role of teacher: 3_TAdash Some old panels were removed and new ones added. Additions include THINGS TO GRADE and WHO’S BEEN DOING WHAT. The first is a shortcut to your workload. The latter will list most recent class submissions. Think of this as a new set of wheels for the TA. You no longer have to ride around in the student driver car.

Super Supervisors

Someone was kind enough to make us aware on Facebook:

Hi, I was wondering if it is possible to make it the default when I send emails and reply to student emails to have it “Send to Supervisor Email” instead of my checking that option. About 90% of the time, I would like parents to have a copy of the email. For the 10% that it does not apply, I could uncheck it. Thank you for your support!

4parent350Super idea!
Just below your signature will be the checkbox to send to supervisor email by default.
Reminder: the supervisor email must exist in VSA. If the email is not there or if it is incorrect, the same will hold true here.
The choice is yours to use this or not.

New for Content Developers

This one is NOT for the teachers. It’s for the hard-working content developers out there. One of them actually wrote …

The way assessments are re-ordered now is awful. Instead of manually setting all of the assessments, give us the ability to drag and drop to reorder them. (Similar to arranging our course lists.)

Course developers, do you remember this? 1GBold Remember how many numbers needed to be changed when one was changed? Now take a look at this: 1GBnew Guess what? It’s now drag and drop! From now on … there is no need to use those numbers to change the Gradebuilder order. No longer are assessments grouped by TYPE. The modernized interface is strictly drag and drop. Are there any curriculum comments out there?

It’s important for me who is at the table with me; the moment when everyone speaks to each other and everyone listens.
If there’s good food, it’s much better.

~ Andrea Bocelli

Update Central: Reason for Exemption


Do you remember when we introduced the addition of the REASON FOR EXEMPTION in assignments? That same comment box now appears for quizzes/exams that can be made exempt for students. NOTE: The does not add the ability to exempt anything new. It simply creates a space that was needed for the prescriptive direction that Educator is heading.


If you manually exempt an exam/quiz, you will get the REASON FOR EXEMPTION field as shown. You will first have to set the manual score as ‘Ex’ (or ‘EX’, ‘ex’, ‘eX’), and then click outside of the “Manual Score” field in order for the REASON FOR EXEMPTION field to appear.

Update Central: Notifications

The engines that ran your notification system had gone down for a while. Now they are back and tuned better than ever!


Go to ANNOUNCEMENTS > NOTIFICATION CENTER. Experiment with whatever you like from this list. It might prove very helpful on days when your time is budgeted more than usual.

If you choose to try the ADVANCED NOTIFICATION SETTINGS, you must continue to remember:

  • specify an email address
  • set the email notifications function to ON
  • set both days and times to receive notifications
  • specify the courses to monitor

NOTE: At this time … paging should be ignored, as it duplicates the email feature.

 Helpful Reminder

We received this request:

I’m not sure if this has been suggested before, but frequently when a student sends me an email inside the system, I need to look at their gradebook to answer the question. Clicking on their name takes me to the student mail profile. It would pretty cool if that click, or a different link, took me directly to their gradebook view.

Others certainly agreed. It makes such great sense, doesn’t it? Where does clicking on a student name in your email actually bring you? Have you tried it?  Look!


The link is already there! Give it a try.
PLEASE NOTE: This only shares the links to grade reports in classes for which you are the teacher, and the student is currently active. It’s amazing how we sometimes forget what’s right in front of us every day.

Time to get back into the kitchen here. Let us know what you think.

A lot of restaurants serve good food, but they don’t have very good service.
~ Wolfgang Puck

Making A Mistake

My mother never gave up on me.
I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.

~ Denzel Washington

doh“We all make mistakes.”
You’ve heard that before.
We’ve all been allegedly comforted with those words, haven’t we?
No matter how sincere the speaker and no matter how small our mistake …
that slip manages to steal the wind from our sails, the roll in our wheels, and the life from our smile.

We made a mistake this week, and we’re here to acknowledge the error of our ways.

This page has always been about sharing.
You share your ideas.
We share the development work done to move forward the Ucompass vision and get your feedback.
There is something you don’t know about this process that contributed to our mistake of the week.


Before we release enhancements to the live Educator system, there is a testing week that takes place with a small group of FLVS managers across all departments. This extends our testing group and allows others to make suggestions or share concerns BEFORE releasing to the platform used by FLVS and its franchises.
Simply put … we neglected to run our sharing and testing last week. So this week becomes next week. Get it?

We apologize, and we move on.
So we browsed around online and found some things worth sharing. We think of them as possible little treasures that you might enjoy.


Quick visit list:

6 Tools for Teachers by Bill Gates

Pinnacle Education: 3 Must-Read Books

Difference Between – Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Rapid E-Learning Blog: Games About Fonts

Lumosity – challenge your brain

There is bound to be something there that you will surely enjoy. Make no mistake … we will be back next week! Thank you.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
~ George Bernard Shaw

People Get Ready

I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for your self.
~ Robin Williams, as John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989)

Thinking for your self? Along with the noble idea of education there’s the daily business of education. You are in that business, and it really amounts to thinking (at least some of the time) for others, doesn’t it? We have spent the better part of this past week visiting schools and facilities from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale. It has been a road show with several stops along the way. This journey was all part of our exciting WeatherSTEM project.  What did we find?

We were met face-to-face with the energy of getting ready for the new school year in schools and facilities across Florida. The signs are rampant. We have all seen it. The thrill of getting ready for a fresh start seems to be leaking into the tired buildings:


“How was your summer?” The conversations and smiles seem to be wearing all the colors and cleanliness of new beginnings. Waves of new life roll through shiny hallways and welcoming doors. It’s that moment laid out as an opportunity for a better ending. It’s that smell of a clean slate, a tabula rasa:


There’s a train coming

There is the overriding hope that this year will be a bit different; it will be a little better. New seeds make for new plants make for new fruit. There will be new discoveries, new adventures, and new rewards. All the newness makes everything look a shade better. Everyone began years ago the same way the newest members of your profession, the first-year teachers, will begin this year. Look in their eyes beyond the nervous fear. Focus on the hope; focus on the possibility for realizing the spectacular. The air has been full of diamonds this past week. Sadly, the dimming will likely begin in another week without your help. Those sparks do indeed fly off your efforts and light the sky when you reach for the spectacular. You can do it! Now what?


Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.
~ Robin Williams, as Jack Powell in Jack (1996)